Future of Carolina Hurricanes up in the air

It’s no secret the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes are up for sale, but the team’s fans are worried the franchise may be relocated elsewhere such as Quebec City or Seattle if it’s eventually sold. With the club making several offseason improvements its fans believe the future is bright and are worried what might happen if owner Peter Karmanos Jr. sheds his interest in the franchise. Karmanos originally bought the club back in 1994 for just $47.5 and recent reports hint that attorney Chick Greenberg, a former CEO of the Texas Rangers is interested in acquiring the Hurricanes for approximately $500 million.

The Hurricanes have improved on the ice this summer by acquiring goaltender Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks as well as centre Markus Kruger and defenceman Trevor van Riemsdyk from the Vegas Golden Knights and free agent forward Justin Williams from the Washington Capitals. It’s obvious that Carolina is intending to compete now and fans don’t want to miss out on the action. The Hurricanes have confirmed that an offer for the club has been received, but have been tight-lipped about any other details.

Karmanos stated that he’s considering all of his options and may very well decide to keep the club. Since the Hurricanes have been losing money recently, rumours about the team relocating have run rampant. The team’s attendance has been among the worst in the NHL over the past three years as Carolina ranked 29TH out of 30 in 2014/15 at 12,594, was last in 2015/16 at 12,203 and ranked 30th again last season with just 11,776 fans per home game. With attendance dropping every year Karmanos is hoping the offseason moves made by general manager Ron Francis will result in bigger crowds as the team pushes for a playoff spot after missing the postseason for the past eight years.

It’s believed Greenberg would keep the Hurricanes in Raleigh, but there are plenty of naysayers who don’t believe any such offer was made for the franchise. Something needs to be done to stop the bleeding though as the team averaged over 16,300 fans per game between 2005/06 to 2013/14. Carolina won the Stanley Cup in 2005/06, but made the playoffs just once after that and it appears ticket buyers are getting fed up with the continuous losing. Doubters don’t believe Greenberg has offered $500 million for a team which cost $47.5 million 23 years ago and then moved to Carolina from Hartford in 1997.

In the 2016/17 season, the value of the Hurricanes franchise was estimated at $230 million by Forbes, which was the lowest of all 30 NHL teams. Critics believe a new practice facility is needed and eventually the team’s arena will need to be upgraded or replaced and it doesn’t make sense for Greenberg to pay twice the going rate of the franchise. They believe he may purchase the club and eventually pump a total of $500 million into it, but the cost of the franchise will be nowhere near that price. Forbes also reported the Hurricanes lose approximately $15 million per season and are $200 million in debt.

Greenberg was a part owner of the Texas Rangers as he joined forces with Nolan Ryan to buy the MLB team in 2010. He became the team’s CEO, but left soon after and sold his shares of the franchise. Hurricanes’ fans don’t really care who owns the club as their main concern is that it remains in Raleigh. The on-ice future appears to be bright for the next few seasons, but it won’t mean a thing to the Carolina faithful if the players are hoisting the Stanley Cup in Quebec or Seattle.